Chula Vista head coach Judd Rachow does not mince words when talking about this year’s Spartan football team. “We graduated just about everybody,” Rachow said succinctly. “We don’t have too many seniors this year.”
When asked to use one word to describe the upcoming season, he also gave a direct answer.
“Challenging,” he said.
That being said, it should be a fun season for the 2010 new-look CVHS team — one that is heavy on youth, buoyed by second-line experience and, above all, braced by enthusiasm and optimism.
Sound familiar? It does to all those who bleed blue and white.
“The other schools are pretty much in the same boat this year as we are,” said Rachow, whose team finished 4-1 in Mesa League play, 6-5 overall last year. “It seems that everybody lost key people to graduation.”
The Spartans maybe more so than other teams.
Taking over the signal-calling duties for departed Spanos All-Star Game quarterback Victor Perez (now at Southwestern College) is sophomore Richard Estevez, who Rachow credits with being very coachable and possessing a good level of skill and intelligence for the position.
“First year being varsity is exciting and nervous but I want to get that banner all three years,” Estevez said.
Senior linebacker Markus Rice shares that same positive outlook.
“We just want to come out here and play hard and hopefully get that banner at the end of the season,” Rice said.
This year’s Spartan varsity squad is junior heavy. Of the 57 rostered players, only 10 are seniors, with four sophomores.
The most experienced players include senior fullback/linebacker Jeff Ayers and senior cornerback Mike Souza.
Rachow said his team may fill the large void left by Thomas Tutogi (now at SWC) in the backfield by committee. Diego Mendez is one candidate. “We don’t have the powerful running style that Thomas or Taimi (Thomas’ older brother, now at the University of Arizona) had but they’re strong and have a few wiggles,” the CVHS coach said.
The team’s receiving corps, which will include players coming out of the backfield, will feature several players vying for balls, among them Souza, Ray Holden, Jordan Chambers and Richard Walker.
“The offensive unit is young — our whole team is young,” Rachow said. “I think we have some decent team speed. We’re just going to have some determination to get through it all and hope they can mesh.”
The Spartan coach said the team’s defense will rely on players who will be playing every down for the first time. “We pretty much have four front four — all our linebackers are pretty much new,” Rachow said.
Standouts in preseason included defensive tackle Ray Clapper, defensive ends Brandon Nealy and Michael Molina and lineman Angel Tembledor.
Rachow said he feels the Mesa League championship race will come down to which team “makes the least mistakes and capitalizes on big plays.”
“It’s going to be challenging but I feel we can be competitive if we stay disciplined,” Rachow said. “We have some good talent here this year — it’s just not experienced at the varsity level. We’ll be looking to improve each week. I know this is a team building for the future but I’d like us to get some results now.”
Chula Vista kicks off 2010 regular season play with a Sept. 3 home game against La Costa Canyon.
Chula Vista Spartans
2010 Varsity Schedule
3: La Costa Canyon at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
10: Chula Vista at Sweetwater, 7 p.m.
17: Chula Vista at Hilltop, 7 p.m.
24: Crespi (Encino) at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
1: Chula Vista at Mira Mesa, 7 p.m.
8: Chula Vista at Castle Park, 7 p.m.
22: Eastlake at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
29: Chula Vista vs. Bonita Vista at Southwestern College, 7 p.m.
5: Mater Dei Catholic at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
12: Chula Vista at Otay Ranch, 7 p.m.